Friday, May 18, 2012

Peru 2012

 My husband and I had the chance to go to Peru with 30 BYU engineering students.  (April 23 - May 7) The students take two semesters to study world problems and find engineering solutions.  Our first projects took place in Matinga, a little village not too far from Cuzco.  This is one of our service projects.  The school asked us to prepare their green house.  Above is the before and below the after.  We removed lots of weeds, rocks, trash, glass, and brought in top soil.  The students will help plant and take care of the garden and the school will use the produce for school lunch.
 The cooking is done inside without ventilation so lung and heart problems develop as a result of smoke inhalation.  The students designed more efficient stoves that had better combustion to decrease the smoke.  This is an oven they are building for the school.  The challenge is to use affordable materials and to teach the villagers how to make and use these inventions.
 The oven team after completion.  With this oven, they will be able to bake bread for the whole school.  To primitive?  The school was given a beautiful three burner propane stove with to propane tanks and large pots.  It is sitting unused in the library because they can't afford to buy propane and they don't know how to use it.  They were excited to learn how to use the oven and even asked for the recipes we used to make the bread.
 The students jumped right in to make the adobe for several projects.
 See, you really can bake bread in a barrel.  It was delicious too.  We also made brownies and cookies.  (When I say "we," I do mean the students.  It's the "royal" we.)
 Working along with the villagers to make this stove and oven inside a families' kitchen.  Now he will teach others how to make their own.  He worked with our students for two days to build this.
 The stove team with their completed stove.  I got to help shuttle tools back and forth.
 I also got to go to all the classrooms and tell a story about, "The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything."  Brandon and Sarah helped me.  Brandon was great to dramatically retell my story in Spanish.  We gave all the boys little matchbox/hotwheel cars and the girls made pipe cleaner bracelets, and received pencils.  We had so much fun playing soccer with them, braiding hair, painting fingernails, teaching them how to do "Cat's cradle" with string, making balloon animals, and just playing in between working on projects.
 This is one end of one families kitchen.  Those are guinea pigs.  They raise them and eat them.  Yes, we even ate guinea pig.  I can't say that any of us liked it very much...just in case you wanted to know...too many little bones.
 We had to shop for supplies in Cuzco.  We found all kinds of interesting things while looking.  Snakes in a bottle anyone?  We watched as one vendor make a poultice for a women using liquid from this bottle and other creepy things to help with arthritis.  I wonder if it really works.  It sure must stink if nothing else.
 Maybe you would like to make soup out of these.  We aren't sure what kind of animal that is but I hope I didn't have that for dinner somewhere on my journey.
 The school was given some computers by the government but they hadn't been able to figure out how to use them.  Our students figured it out and then taught the teachers so they could teach their students.
 The first day in Cuzco, they were celebrating the anniversary of their artisans market so we got to see lots of dancing and wonderful costumes.
 We even got to go to church in Cuzco.
 And, we were able to tour and hike around Machu Picchu.  It was so incredible.  Unfortunately we only had one day to sight see before getting back to work.
 Our next stop was Puno.  We worked for 4 days on the Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca.  Dora and Nelson were wonderful to host us all.  We loved the time we spent there.  Below, the students are teaching the people to build water filtration systems.  All their water comes straight from the lake...the same place all their waste goes...not a good combination.  There are many health problems as a result.  (The students built a filtration system last year for Nelson and Dora. Before the filtration system they had to have their children treated for parasites every few months.  Now they don't have that problem.  Others islanders reported the same results.  This time, they taught people how to make their own systems so they could build and maintain the systems on their own and we could reach so many more people.)
 The students also built a washing machine.  The women were excited to test it out.  All the washing in done by hand.  In the wintertime, that is an especially miserable experience since they can't help but get wet while doing it.  (The elevation is 13,500 feet above sea level.  It took some adjusting to be able to breath in that high altitude and the sun was intense during the day.  So easy to get sunburned.  Quite a few of us left our sunscreen behind for the children to use.)
 This is Emerson.  At age 6 he is a hand full but you couldn't help but love him.
 Emerson even gave me a ride around his island. (See the boat in the background?  His dad makes those for a living.
 I was usually surrounded by children.  We made things out of pipe cleaners, braided hair, painted fingernails, played duck, duck, goose. (pato, pato, gonzo), London bridges,Ring Around the Rosies, and anything else I could think of.  In this picture, I'm fixing "boo boo's" with triple antibiotic and "cars" and "mickey mouse" band aids.  It seemed like everyone needed a band aid after that.

We also built water pumps.  The islands have to be watered by hand in order to keep from drying out and splitting.  That gray pipe you see sticking up to the left in our group picture is the pump.  They were so excited to have one.  Other islanders made them for their islands too.

Life on the islands is hard.  They fish every day for food to eat. 
They islands are made out of reeds.  (Twice a year the reeds detach from the bottom of the lake and they use that as the base.  They have to move all the buildings and put more reeds underneath every two weeks.  They spend 4 days cutting the reeds.  No running water, no hot water, no bathrooms, not even a kitchen sink.  They had one solar panel that provided electricity for a couple light bulbs at night.  No heating, no air conditioning, no refridgeration.

We spent the night one night and it was freezing.  The ground was frozen in the morning.  I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful night sky than I did that night though.  So many stars and it was so quiet.

We had fried trout, rice, and potatoes that night for dinner with a mint tea to drink.  We had bread and eggs for breakfast in the morning.  It was such a fun experience.

I loved being with my husband and sharing this adventure with him.  I also loved all the students.  They worked hard and played hard.  We had a devotional every morning and night and I loved hearing what each of them had to say when it was their turn to give one.  Many of them were return missionaries who were able to practice their Spanish skills.  I don't know how we would have done it without them.  The students were gracious and loving and embraced the people we visited.  I hope we made a difference in the lives of those we tried to help.  I know that they made a difference in ours.  I would love to do it all again.


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Thimbleanna said...

Wow! How exciting! It looks like you had an awesome trip - I'd love to have an adventure like that. The real question is -- how much weight did you lose - guinea pigs and snakes don't look ver appetizing!

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